How e‑commerce entrepreneurs can optimize their shipping

It’s easier than ever to build an e-commerce store today. You have all the tools and technologies readily available to get started fast. But, only 50 percent of small businesses are left standing after five years, which means the hard work doesn’t stop after you get your company off the ground.

When you build an e-commerce store, an important question to ask yourself is: How will you compete with the major players in your industry to drive profits? What will make you stand out to keep customers coming back for more?

A great way to attract an audience and grow your business is by nailing the end-to-end shipping experience. From the time customers click “Buy” until they unbox their items, there are opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses to facilitate deeper, one-on-one relationships with customers. SMBs often have an edge in that their products are uniquely personal already. Thoughtful shipping tactics can attract repeat customers and more sales.

By making returns seamless and hassle-free, you can turn unhappy customers into happy, repeat customers.

Here are five strategies that entrepreneurs and online retailers can use to optimize their shipping experience.

Give your brand meaning

Consumers want to buy from companies that offer more than just a product. They’re looking for an experience. Make sure you’re interacting with your audience where they “live” online, whether that’s on Instagram, Reddit or other social platforms, and speaking the same language as them. For example, if you’re catering to a youthful, fun audience, leave the corporate marketing jargon at home.

Build a community around your brand, encouraging hashtags, social sharing, and grassroots engagement from your customers. This helps move the needle as your customers aren’t just buying a product, they’re also finding inspiration, friendships, etc.

Once you’ve honed in on your message, make sure your brand is consistent across platforms and throughout the buying experience, particularly as items are shipping out into the hands of customers.

Optimize shipping costs

It’s important to make sure you’re using cost-effective shipping options to meet your bottom line. Since free shipping is so critical to the user experience, look for ways you can offer it. That might be implementing a free shipping threshold or a limited-time free shipping promotion.

The best shipping strategies are proactive. If you haven’t already, review the current 2018 shipping rate charts across the shipping providers you work with to make sure you understand the prices beforehand.

Look at your monthly invoices or package archives to identify your most popular packages and routes. Spend extra time on these to see if there are any ways you can be saving money—either by optimizing the packaging you use or comparing with other shipping services.

Use the delivery experience to “surprise and delight” customers

Consumers have come to expect that brands will go above and beyond for loyal customers. Over half of online shoppers said that they would be somewhat or much more likely to purchase from a retailer again if their package came with a free giveaway.

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